A fairer, greener independent Scotland needs more than vague words
The greatest achievement of the Scottish Greens’ latest paper on independence is to make the Scottish Government papers look clear and detailed.
Promising a “series of papers and policy proposals,” the Greens published their first contribution to the indyref2 debate on Monday.
But short of very general statements and repeating party lines (they like Universal Basic Income, they dislike the UK Government’s approach to immigration) there is little in the paper to really set out its “vision for a fairer, greener and independent Scotland”.
While this first paper is perhaps simply a scene-setter (much like the government’s first paper), for a party pushing for more welcoming, hopeful and positive politics, the document is surprisingly dour. It talks about the damage of Westminster governments and how devolution isn’t enough to solve the big problems facing Scotland – but offers no solutions beyond a broad-brush chat about having “the powers of a normal, independent country”.
It does, of course, contain all the right phrases that would make those who already back the party (and independence) happy – “gender budgeting,” “a real living wage,” “rejoin the European Union,” “uphold the Refugee Convention”.
But none of this will help convince the all-important undecided or swithering voters. It doesn’t mention currency, or deal with the other big economic questions, or even provide evidence that a UBI would be “more affordable” that the current social security system despite co-leader Patrick Harvie making that claim at the launch.
Ensuring the SNP’s vision for an independent Scotland does not dominate the years ahead will be important. After all, an independent Scotland is unlikely to continue to be dominated by the SNP.
But this is a poor start.
Much of the paper only mirrors the Scottish Government’s paper published in the summer (but vaguer and in fewer words…) with only a few hints towards differences of opinion. Perhaps this is, as the party would argue, simply the impact of Greens being in government.
But all it really does is suggest what little thought has been given to the specifics of independence since 2014. It’s been a long eight years in Scottish politics, and oftentimes it has felt like little else has been discussed other than the constitution.
Yet the overall feeling of this, and indeed the official government’s, paper is of parties relying on the state of things at Westminster to do the arguing for them.
If the Greens really do want to build a “fairer, greener” Scotland, it will need more than reheated words. It actually needs to set out a vision.
Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe